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posted by martyb on Saturday January 05 2019, @11:19PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the discuss! dept.

February: Fiasco by Stanisław Lem
March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in the comments below.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein was published in 1966:

The book popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL ("There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"), and helped popularize the constructed language Loglan, which is used in the story for precise human-computer interaction. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations credits this novel with the first printed appearance of the phrase "There's no free lunch", although the phrase and its abbreviation considerably predate the novel.

The virtual assistant Mycroft is named after a computer system from the novel.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body Problem


Original Submission

Related Stories

SoylentNews Book Club is Alive 51 comments

Want to read some books? Many of our users have shown interest in having a book club. Now it's finally time to kick it off.

Your soytyrant has pre-selected the first three books so that you have more time to read them, should you choose to do so:

September: Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew
October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

The plan is to read a book, and discuss it on the 1st of the following month. Suggestions for new books (of any genres, not just "science fiction") will also be collected at the same time. You can start listing some of your suggestions right now in this comment section. We'll pick up to eight of them and run a poll on September 15th to decide the book for December. And so on.

The first book is Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew, one of our more literary users (not to be confused with Mars Ho! by Jennifer Willis). The book is available for free on McGrew's website, although there are some purchasing options available if you want to support him. From the description:

Captain John Knolls thinks he's just been given the best assignment of his career -- ferrying two hundred prostitutes to Mars. He doesn't know that they're all addicted to a drug that causes them to commit extreme, deadly violence when they are experiencing withdrawal or that he'll face more pirates than anyone had ever seen before. Or that he'd fall in love. A humorous science fiction space novel, a horror story, a love story, a pirate story, a tale of corporate bureaucracy and incompetence.

All book club posts will be in the Community Reviews nexus, which is linked to on the site's sidebar. You'll likely want to click on that link once the posts fall off the main page.


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: October 2018 28 comments

October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

October's book is Foundation by Isaac Asimov, meaning the collection of 5 short stories first published in 1951. It is the first published entry in the Foundation series.

Please discuss last month's book, Mars, Ho! below if you haven't done so already. You can also suggest books for January 2019. I can include titles that were already suggested, such as in the comments on the poll. We may be able to increase the maximum number of poll options to accommodate more books.

Previously: SoylentNews Book Club is Alive


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: Discuss Foundation, Start Reading The Three-Body Problem 40 comments

November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

A poll for the January 2019 book will be around the 15th, unless you want it sooner (not sooner than the U.S. midterms).

Discuss Foundation by Isaac Asimov in the comments below.

As for Liu Cixin's best known novel:

"Wildly imaginative, really interesting." ―President Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy

The English translation for The Three-Body Problem was published in 2014 by Ken Liu under Tor Books.

Consider using <spoiler>text</spoiler> wherever you feel the need to do so.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: Discuss The Three-Body Problem, Start Reading Snow Crash 23 comments

December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

The next poll will pick two books. I'd like to do it that way to keep a strong second place contender from being overlooked, and so I don't have to update the poll so often.

Discuss The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin in the comments below.

Snow Crash was written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The novel features a bit of a Calexit scenario, and is known for popularizing the term "avatar" (paving the way for James Cameron's true magnum opus). These days, Neal moonlights as Magic Leap's "Chief Futurist". Seems appropriate.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!Foundation


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: Fiasco, Start Reading: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) 17 comments

Discuss Fiasco by Stanisław Lem in the comments below. If you have any book suggestions for the upcoming poll, feel free to add those.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first book of the "Bobiverse" series by Dennis E. Taylor:

Dennis E. Taylor is a Canadian novelist and former computer programmer known for his large scale hard science fiction stories exploring the interaction between artificial intelligence and the human condition.

While working at his day job as a computer programmer, Taylor self published his first novel and began working with an agent to try and publish his second novel We Are Legion. However Taylor still had difficultly getting any publishing house to take on his work, eventually publishing it through his agent's in-house publishing arm. An audiobook rights deal with Audible was also reached and once recorded, We Are Legion became one of the most popular audiobooks on the service and was awarded Best Science Fiction Audiobook of the year.

[...] In October 2018 Taylor was added to the X-Prize Foundation Science Fiction Advisory Council as a "Visionary Storyteller". This group of accomplished science fiction authors help advise the X-Prize team on envisioning the future.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow CrashThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Start Reading: Fiasco 75 comments

March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein in the comments below.

Fiasco was translated into English in 1988 by Michael Kandel:

Fiasco (Polish: Fiasko) is a science fiction novel by Polish author Stanisław Lem, first published in a German translation in 1986. The book, published in Poland the following year, is a further elaboration of Lem's skepticism: in Lem's opinion, the difficulty in communication with alien civilizations is cultural disparity rather than spatial distance. The failure to communicate with an alien civilization is the main theme of the book.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow Crash


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05 2019, @11:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05 2019, @11:46PM (#782641)

    Sounds suspiciously like "Rammer" by Larry Niven.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Snotnose on Sunday January 06 2019, @12:02AM (4 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday January 06 2019, @12:02AM (#782643)

    I remember back when I was a wee lad with mom taking me to the library, me with a kids card. I snuck out one day to the adult sections, where I found some Good Stuff. Was checking the books out, looking at the librarian, hoping she didn't say anything to mom, and mom, hoping she didn't say anything to the librarian. Hate to say, but with 20/20 on top of 50 years hindsight mom wasn't paying attention or she would have shit. Sorry mom, that's the way you were.

    I was about 8 years old at the time. It was the La Mesa library, long before they tore it down to build a new building (a friend's dad produced plays there, he died of a heart attack after the old one was torn down but before the new one was built. The new building didn't have a stage).

    Oh yeah, I'd discovered dad's stash of Science Fiction a few months earlier. Top shelf, hall closet, under blankets? Sorry dad. I read them 1 at a time, left to right. I made sure to fluff the books so there was no obvious missing book. Again, I was maybe 8 at the time.

    Fast forward to me, 20/21. Read a Heinlein book with TANSTAAFL in it, thought "turkey stole that from Niven". Then read the copyright page, realized wasn't as well read on early science fiction as I thought

    The moral? There is none. I've had to pee for 30 minutes, but the cat is snoring in my lap and I'm liking the music on my stereo.

    --
    Forget the past, ya can't change it. Forget the future, ya can't predict it. Forget the present, I didn't get you one
    • (Score: 2) by RedBear on Sunday January 06 2019, @12:17AM (2 children)

      by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 06 2019, @12:17AM (#782647)

      I've had to pee for 30 minutes, but the cat is snoring in my lap and I'm liking the music on my stereo.

      LOL. Cats: The primary cause of bladder disorders since forever.

      Sorry SN, I don’t want to read TMIAHM again, I’m still sad-face inside from when I read it nearly 30 years ago. Then again, it made for an interesting storyline in... which was it, Number of the Beast or The Cat Who Walks Through Walls? I think the latter.

      I was seven when I wandered out of the children’s section and stumbled on a science fiction anthology of some kind. I don’t think I ever went back to the children’s books.

      --
      ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
      ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @06:19AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @06:19AM (#782690)

        Rescuing Adam Selene was part of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Pixel (the cat) was not prominently featured in spite of the title.
        The rescue comes up just as tangentially in To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

        I can't speak to The Number of the Beast as I have not yet read it.

        • (Score: 2) by RedBear on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:01AM

          by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:01AM (#782698)

          Oh, that’s right. I was trying to remember the title of that other closely related book. My mistake. I guess it’s been too long.

          Number of the Beast is a cute sci-fi adventure, and far less of a downer than things like Glory Road or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I highly recommend it if you ever liked anything by Heinlein.

          --
          ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
          ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
    • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Tuesday January 08 2019, @12:56AM

      by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday January 08 2019, @12:56AM (#783491)

      +5 funny, I love my peeps :) Background: More than a little drunk at the time, really wanted to pee, did not want to disturb the cat, and I've found a radio station on Pluto I really like (not a Pluto plug, they don't remember what I was watching last night; current show (Death Note or somesuch, adult anime) takes 32 down arrows, 3 right, then I get to guess which ep I finished last night. This is not user friendly, don't ask how many times I had to look for it until the magic button push sequence got me where I wanted to be.

      Then again, the cat is snoring in my lap and I'm listening to the radio station. Which I really really like. I should drink more, I don't have to pee.

      --
      Forget the past, ya can't change it. Forget the future, ya can't predict it. Forget the present, I didn't get you one
  • (Score: 1) by Marvin on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:20AM (3 children)

    by Marvin (3019) on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:20AM (#782702)

    Snow Crash is a book that Wiliam Gibson would write, if he could actually write :)

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @08:36AM (#782706)

      Neal Stephenson is not fit to wipe William Gibson's flipflop.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Sunday January 06 2019, @10:16AM (1 child)

      by deimtee (3272) on Sunday January 06 2019, @10:16AM (#782717) Journal

      Most Gibson or Sterling books I quite liked. I don't know whose fault it was, but The Difference Engine by both is one of the very few SF books I could never finish. Every time I tried I just fell asleep.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Monday January 07 2019, @11:54PM

        by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Monday January 07 2019, @11:54PM (#783472) Journal

        Had the same problem. I started it three or four times and just couldn't go there..... Then one day picked it up again and finally started to get it, then couldn't put it down until the end. (And I normally get every Gibson book as close to first-day-of-release as I can and devour it.)

        --
        Keep everyone ignorant of the magical world! KEEP AMERICA OBLIVIATE!
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @09:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @09:15AM (#782708)

    The story could have been better served if Neal would have decided whether or not he was writing a research paper and stuck to that decision. If he had written a nonfiction piece about attempting a verbally programmed hardware/firmware exploit against humans, that would have been interesting. If he would have just explained his concept quickly and concisely a single time, the book would have been dramatically shorter and devoid of the constant interruptions to rehash theory details superfluous to the story.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by deimtee on Sunday January 06 2019, @10:24AM (1 child)

    by deimtee (3272) on Sunday January 06 2019, @10:24AM (#782718) Journal

    I like most of Stephensons books, but I think he needs more training in how to end a book. He writes a great intro, and then many, many, pages of engaging story, but at some point it is like "oh, I have to finish this soon. Here's a bunch of quick wrap-ups for the plot points I care about, the rest can go hang.".

    --
    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @11:14AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @11:14AM (#782723)

      He learned, and finished Anathem and wrapped things up in the end, more or less. Nothing can touch Tolkien's conclusions at the end of LoTR, of course.

      Your complaint is sort of old, but then, by now, so is Anathem.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @02:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06 2019, @02:24PM (#782756)

    You might try reading Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100" instead. It is more appropriate to modern times.

  • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday January 07 2019, @01:27AM (3 children)

    by Mykl (1112) on Monday January 07 2019, @01:27AM (#782957)

    I got on to Snow Crash after Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon (which I absolutely loved). I enjoyed Snow Crash, but not quite as much as Cryptonomicon.

    It's always entertaining seeing different authors' takes on the ubiquitous VR world that we will all live in sometime in the future. Some good ideas in the book, and an intriguing plot.

    My main problem with the plot, however, was:


    From memory, Hiro's ex-girlfriend, Juanita, deliberately exposed herself to the virus and mind control program in order to infiltrate the organisation planning to carry out its agenda. Somehow she managed to train herself to break out of the control, but I don't think it's ever explained how she managed to actually do that. Sorta seems like an unacceptably high risk, somewhat akin to agreeing to become an actual crystal meth addict in order to infiltrate a gang on the hope that you'll be able to kick the habit later.

    Happy to be proven wrong by anyone who has read the novel more recently!

    Interested to hear what others think.

    • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Monday January 07 2019, @07:38AM

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 07 2019, @07:38AM (#783078)

      Wasn't that after they'd decoded it and thus could neuter it to some degree?

      Now it's been many years since I read Snow Crash, so I could be off base here...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07 2019, @04:04PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07 2019, @04:04PM (#783221)

      She already knew the language from her Babylonian studies, and so could control the neurolinguistic virus.

      • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday January 07 2019, @11:38PM

        by Mykl (1112) on Monday January 07 2019, @11:38PM (#783464)

        Thanks - that rings a bell.

        I'm still not buying it though. Just because you know how a virus works, that doesn't mean you can't be infected.

  • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday January 07 2019, @05:48PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 07 2019, @05:48PM (#783265) Journal

    If I especially like a book, I'll read it more than once. I have read Snow Crash only once. Not bad, but it's one of those stories that's over the top. It's cyberpunk carried to caricature extremes.

    The setting has humanity well down the road to Hell, living in corporate fascist walled-- well, you can't call them gardens, more like weed patches. The depiction of the Feds was especially silly.

    The main thrust can be taken as feelgood for nerds, or as mockery of same, in that the normies don't want or need hackers any more, after using them to build out a computer network, until faced with a mysterious crisis that looks like it's going to need some serious hacking to figure out. Of course, the villains have realized early on that hackers are their biggest enemies, the ones most likely to be able to expose and counter their scheme, and have targeted them first. So there aren't a whole lot of hackers left by the time the normies understand something is wrong and that nerds are prime targets, and maybe they ought to rediscover some value in nerds since whatever is doing them in evidently thinks them worth the trouble of eliminating.

    There's also an elevation of nerdiness to a pillar of civilization. Ancient Babylon rose from savagery to civilization through the insights and efforts of nerds. Why, we might still all be savage beasts today if not for those early nerd heroes, hacking our very brains.

    And the villains, it's not clear who they are, or even if they are, if there are any human conspirators behind it all. Maybe it's just a disease? But no, we eventually learn that there are human villains behind it all, and who do they turn out to be? Why, the very worst anti-intellectual dirtbags you can imagine: televangelists!

    All in all, a kind of nerd fantasy that's a bit embarrassing.

  • (Score: 1) by callmeemo on Wednesday January 09 2019, @05:08PM

    by callmeemo (6445) on Wednesday January 09 2019, @05:08PM (#784180)

    I went into Snow Crash a few years ago expecting a cool cyberpunk adventure. I was somewhat new to the genre as far as books go (fantasy's my preferred), so I was excited for this staple (and Neuromancer). Now I'm down with the dystopian future, reflective and all that, 1984 is a warning not a guide, whatever. I just found the author's style to be underwhelming. I enjoyed the concepts, his world and technologies were interesting to learn about, and his characters were fun if lacking depth. The plot, however, just felt somewhat strung together from act to act with characters suddenly moving somewhere else entirely, often. It felt like things happened off the spotlight that could be justified or explained, but weren't really.

    As deimtee mentioned, Stephenson just seemed like he was in a hurry to get to the end of it. Too many things left undone or unsaid to really feel enjoyable. I don't regret having read it, the concepts and Hiro Protagonist himself were certainly memorable (I'm a sucker for Tower of Babylon stories, thanks SMT), it just needed more time in the oven.

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